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Oxford Utd 1 Crawley Wasps 3 (aet)
Crawley Wasps continued their stellar start to life as an FAWNL club with a 3-1 away win after extra time over Oxford United in the second round of the League Cup.
In a thrilling tie, Wasps looked to be heading out of the competition, trailing to Sophie Baker's headed opener despite creating a host of chances before a superb Naomi Cole free kick levelled matters late on. Extra time strikes from Emma Plewa and Sian Heather settled the tie for the highly impressive newcomers to the league, playing against higher ranked opponents.
Crawley started in fine style, stretching the U's defence with telling through passes and intelligent movement. Oxford had a good spell of pressure themselves in a frantic opening fifteen minutes. Charlotte Young having to snuff out the danger with a strong headed clearance and Baker then having a shot held by Frankie Gibbs.
At the other end, Wasps created a series of openings as the half developed with Plewa, Heather and Faye Rabson all finding shooting positions but firing wide. Young headed wide from a Cole corner and home keeper Hannah Cox made the first of a series of good saves on 36 minutes, turning away a stinging low shot from Rachel Palmer.
The second half started in the same way, Cox denying Rabson from close range before Baker stunned the visitors on 53 minutes heading home after a Lauren Haynes free kick was knocked back into the goalmouth.
The hosts nearly added a crucial second on 62 minutes when a Lauren Allison cross found Flo Fyfe, but Wasps defender Young cleared off the line with Gibbs beaten.
Wasps turned up the pressure as the match reached the last twenty minutes. Cole played in Heather whose shot rebounded off the far post. Plewa then rattled the same upright a few minutes later.
It seemed that it would be the hosts' day when Cox somehow reacted to turn a Young downward header wide on 85 minutes but Cole changed everything with a perfect 35-yard free kick wide on the right which flew beyond Cox into the top corner.
In a thrilling finish, United hit the bar from a corner, then Cox made a superb double save for Oxford right on the final whistle to ensure extra time,
Wasps took command almost straight away on the restart when Plewa was given time to hit a shot which was deflected away from the keeper then Rabson worked an opening on the right and Cox's block fell for Heather to turn home the third Wasps goal on 98 minutes.
Oxford never gave up despite the stunning triple blow but ran into a very tenacious defence where the defenders, especially Young and the excellent Niamh Stephenson protected their goal with great determination.
Wasps saw out the match comfortably to record a fine win against an Oxford side which had not played at all badly but were up against highly skilled and strongly motivated opponents on the day.
Hannah Cox, Steph Bent, Lauren Haynes, Emily Allen, Cat Beaver, Flo Fyfe, Sophie Baker, Kerry Walklett, Lauren Allison, Lena Stroem, Bobby Lynch. Subs: Lucy Thomas, Georgia Timms, Steph Mobbs, Laura Hennessy, Maddy Robertson.
Frankie Gibbs, Niamh Stevenson, Rachel Palmer, Charlotte Young, Darcey James, Naomi Cole, Jenny Drury, Faye Rabson, Emma Plewa, Megan Stow, Sian Heather. Subs: Lauren Graves, Charlie Carter, Ariana Flieschman, Suzanne Davis.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Bobby Lynch slides in to tackle Sian Heather
(middle) Flo Fyfe battles for the ball with Jenny Drury
(bottom) Charlotte Young jumps for a header with Lauren Allison
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